After plummeting to a near-record low in 2007, blue crab populations in the Bay have nearly tripled thanks to restrictions on catching females. Photo by Margaret Sentman
Bringing Native Species Back from the Brink
In the four centuries since the explorations of Captain John Smith, the Chesapeake Bay has lost half of its forested shoreline, more than half its wetlands, nearly 80 percent of its underwater grasses, and more than 98 percent of its oysters. Across the watershed, approximately 1.7 million acres of once-untouched land were developed by 1950. Development has accelerated dramatically since then, with an additional 2.7 million acres built on or paved over between 1950 and 1980.
The human pressure of these changes has imposed heavy negative impacts on the health and resilience of the Bay. Although we will never return to the pristine territory explored by Captain John Smith during those early voyages, CBF is fighting to return this fragile ecosystem to balance.
For years, CBF has been a leader in restoration efforts that improve the capacity of rivers, streams, and the Bay to treat pollution. In programs across the watershed, many of them conducted with CBF volunteers and partner organizations, CBF is restoring native oysters, planting underwater grasses, and planting trees, to restore the Bay's natural filters.
Working With Farmers to Reduce Pollution
The evidence is clear: Reducing pollution on agricultural land is far and away the cheapest, most cost-effective pollution-reduction strategy. But for individuals tasked with getting the job done, the financial costs can present a challenge, even for those who really want to do the right thing.
CBF has helped scores of farmers find funding and implement conservation practices that have dramatically reduced pollution running off their land. CBF is working hard to remove the road-blocks and accelerate progress through restorations like the one on the Plouse family dairy farm.
Through The Maryland Grazers Network, dairy farmers like Myron Martin and Ron Holter are proving that sustainable farming can help increase profits. Developed by the Chesapeake Bay Foundation's Clagett Farm, the network is a mentorship program that provides farmers with technical assistance and expertise in pasture and forage management, financial management, marketing, and funding.
CBF's Clagett Farm is a working farm and a site for field experiences for students, teachers, and adults.
Find out more about the issues CBF is working on in your part of the watershed or volunteer for one of our restoration projects.